A colleague of mine once said that Retief Goosen’s two US Open wins were at courses where no one else could play the speedy greens like the Goose could. In 2013 Justin Rose won on one-over-par at Merion and the last time the US Open was held at Pinehurst no player finished in the red. All of that says a lot about what to expect from the second major of the year.
Pinehurst is a dream for a putting maestro like Goosen and his injury woes have subsided this year, making the 45-year-old a name to consider. On the 2014 PGA Tour he’s made 11 cuts in 18 starts with a best result of tied seventh at the Shell Houston Open in April.
This week the Polokwane local is competing amongst the elite field of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where the likes of Phil Mickelson and Graeme McDowell will be making final adjustments to their game. The South African will be doing much the same, but a larger factor is injury concern and it’s a case of going back to square one – trying to string four solid rounds together.
It’s a tough ask of the two-time major champion who previously ranked as high as 11th in the world, but his countryman Ernie Els proved in 2012 that maturity plays a huge role in major championships.
The upside of Goosen’s scenario is that he’s well rested and mentally prepared for the US Open. The extra hours spent on his game will be put to good use at Pinehurst, where the 10-time Sunshine Tour champion is likely to produce surprising scores based on his ability to sink some of those crucial putts.
But the situation at hand is the St. Jude Classic, where Goosen will reveal whether he’s healthy enough to compete. If the answer is yes we could well be surprised by the leading South African at the US Open this year.